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One of the most difficult things about becoming aware of the converging catastrophes that are lurching inexorably towards a great convulsion (at least, for me) is the guilt of having been inextricably responsible - or, to put it another way, to realize after that first passion of activism and outrage, that's it's impossible to escape being complicit. Compromises and hypocrisies follow me like a cloud of internal recrimination. I'm trying hard to have pity on myself and everyone else too. One way is to find some bathos in the absurdities that render our best intentions ineffectual. Take the story about surfers who are shocked and dismayed to find trash fouling places they expected to be pristine, in Indonesia.
Today Wit's End is going to be considerably more depressing than usual. Impossible, you say? In a comment to my last post, about the horrible accident last Sunday in which a mother and her unborn child were killed by a falling tree, Catman left a link about two children who had been seriously injured in Georgia. I looked for a followup and accidentally found news of another child not far away, who was hit by a falling branch last fall. I wonder how many of these tragedies are happening around the country and the world, in isolation...with nobody putting it together as being the inevitable result when so many trees - all of them, really - are dying from absorbing pollution.
Here are their stories. These are real people - like my friend who was died when a branch hit him in the face in the aftermath of Sandy - whose lives have been ruined...and they have no idea why. People mostly don't realize that trees have become lethal threats - because they never used to be. As the full fury of climate change and a collapsing ecosystem are unleashed, many more heartbreaks will become a tsunami of unalleviated grief. But somehow these tiny individual children make it seem so much more real than statistics of dozens and hundreds already being lost in floods and fires.
Children Injured By Falling Tree in Walton County
Tree falls, lands on 2 children
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Two children were seriously injured when a tree fell on them Friday night in Walton County.
The 4-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl, believed to be siblings, were on a riding toy when the tree fell, hitting them both, Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said.
The two were flown separately by helicopter to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, where the boy was in critical condition and the girl in fair condition late Friday.
“I’m told that this tree was dead and rotting,” Chapman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The boy was unconscious after being struck, Chapman said. The girl was alert and crying, he said.
The children, who were visiting family on Wagon Trail, near Loganville, were injured around 8:15 p.m. as they played outside, Chapman said. The two live in Stone Mountain, he said.
Next is the story of a little boy named Tripp, who was injured last fall. There is a facebook page where his mother writes frequently of what the family is experiencing. Her sincerity and her hope in spite of her overwhelming anxiety and grief are so poignant to read, that I've copied some of her entries. There are many, many more.
Critical days ahead for toddler hit by tree limb
With his spiked blond hair, blue eyes and constant smile, 2-year-old Tripp Halstead is used to attention, even from strangers. He loves having his picture taken so much, he’s been known to jump into other’s people’s pictures.
“People are drawn to him,” his father, Bill Halstead, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “What you see in the pictures is 100 percent him. He’s second to none.”
But never has the attention meant as much as it does now, as Tripp lies in critical condition in a bed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Tuesday night marked 24 hours since the toddler underwent brain surgery, hours after being struck by a falling tree limb while at his Winder daycare center.
It was a freak accident on an unusually windy day. But it left the ever-happy Barrow County boy fighting for his life, and his parents and other family members praying for a miracle.
“He’s doing fairly well,” Halstead said by phone Tuesday night. “Most of the doctors seem to be happy with where he’s at.”
Wednesday afternoon brought another small sigh of relief, when the pressure around Tripp’s brain dropped, his family said.
Still, Tripp is by no means out of danger, and his family is learning to take his recovery hour by hour, minute by minute.
“The next couple days are extremely critical to us,” Halstead said.
Doctors are constantly monitoring Tripp for bruising and swelling in his head as he recovers from the surgery that lasted more than three hours. It’s an emotional process of waiting, and Tripp’s parents and relatives have remained at the hospital every minute.
Halstead said he and his wife, Stacy, have been overwhelmed with the support and words of sympathy they continue to receive, even from strangers. Halstead has turned to Facebook to update friends on Tripp’s recovery.
“Thank you again to everyone, it is amazing how loved and cared for we all feel right now,” Halstead posted Tuesday night.
Halstead has also posted pictures of his son taken at the hospital. He’s holding his prized Lightning McQueen toy, but Tripp’s usual, toothy grin is missing. His family clings to the hope the little boy with the huge personality will recover.
A Facebook page titled “Tripp Halstead Updates” was set up so Halstead can keep the old and new friends updated of changes in Tripp’s condition.
A fund has been established to assist the Halstead with any costs associated with Tripp’s medical care. Donations can be made at any PNC bank branch in Tripp Halstead’s name.
This is Tripp's mom's summary of the incident as recounted on the TeemBoom4Trip website:
Dr's don't know everything, but to be told Tripp is the only child I would ever carry inside me, make this accident even worse. I couldn't imagine losing my one perfect miracle. So we are so thankful that he is still with us. No matter what condition he is in. The Dr's still won't tell us how far he will go. They just say with this much brain damage, most children don't survive. So that is why we pray every minute of everyday. No one knows what he will be able to accomplish.
Some of you might not even know what happened the day of the accident...Oct 29, 2012. He was playing on the playground at daycare and a huge limb fell out of a very high tree. It fell on his head and crushed his skull into many pieces. They took him to Winder-Barrow hospital and then flew him to Egleston Childrens hospital in Atlanta. As Bill and I were driving to meet him in Atlanta, I don't think we spoke 10 words to each other. We were scared and we just prayed. We honestly didn't know how bad it was.
As soon as we got there, they let us see him. He looked perfect. No blood, no cuts, he looked so peaceful. Then the Dr started telling us how bad it was, and it took me some time to realize they were saying he could die. It was a slice to my heart and soul. So the next few hours after that were a total blur. When I dropped my happy, perfect boy off at daycare that morning, it might of been the last time I saw his smile or his eyes open or him awake. I will never take another day with my baby for granted.
So he survived surgery, then the next 24 hours and made it til Friday. Then he took a turn for the worst and they told us to say our goodbyes. That was the worst day of my life. To think he had survived this and then given no hope. But Tripp proved them wrong, he is a fighter and he pulled through and we have never looked back. He spent 5 full months in the hospital. He is at home now and even though he is making babysteps, he is moving forward.
I cherish every moment with him. He is my whole world and I want him to know how much he is loved. I didn't want this post to be all sad, I wanted everyone to know how important every single day is with your loved ones, hug them, kiss them, let them know how special they are to you. Even if Tripp hadn't pulled through, I can honestly say there wasn't one single day of his life that he wasn't hugged on, kissed on and told "I love you". He is a very special boy and thank you all for loving him too.
Following is her facebook update yesterday. It is devastating to learn that the agony continues unabated, and her bravery is undiminished.
Stacy: Just asking for a few extra prayers tonight. Tripp is really having a rough night. The Benadryl that I thought would knock him out like it did this afternoon hasn't done a thing. He won't stop moaning and crying. His heart rate is high so that alarm is going off and his oxygen level keeps dropping so that alarm is going off. I have given him everything that I safely can. Bill and I have been laying together in the twin bed next to Tripp just watching and trying to figure out what is the problem and how can we fix it. Bill held him through most of the Cars movie, it was on TV tonight, but he never relaxed in his arms. Then I put him on his stomach on the therapy table like last night when he slept so good, that didn't work. He is now in his own bed twisting and turning. All parents know how incredibly hard it is to watch your child hurt, especially when you can't figure out how to fix it!!! We are going to try giving him oxygen. He never looks really sick till we have to give him oxygen. It just brings back all the memories of trying to just keep him alive after the accident. Pray this works, I just don't know what to do. It will be a long night, but our nurse will be here at 8am so hopefully she can help figure out what is wrong and if we need to go to the dr. Ok... Be right back, gotta hook up the oxygen machine.
Maybe that was exactly what he needed. His heart rate is going down and his oxygen is going up. Still not at 100 percent which is odd with the machine, but def better. Then you have to wonder, what is causing him to have trouble breathing?? I swear the questions never end and your heart never stops breaking. Ok, I am going to get off the computer and do some praying of my own. Love you all.
While we're on the subject of shattered lives, Werner Herzog has made a powerful documentary, meant as a cautionary tale to warn of the consequences of texting while driving. I wonder if it wouldn't seem to be just as important to warn people of the inevitable "collateral" damage from driving cars without texting - accidents and pollution?? Nah...